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Plunging consumer spending hits TV shopping networks

The deteriorating consumer spending trend has hit the TV shopping networks, too.

St. Petersburg-based HSN Inc. today reported a 1 percent sales decline in the quarter ended Sept. 30. Earnings were depressed by price cutting and a rising rate of bad debt from customers.

"It's a challenging time," said Mindy Grossman, chief executive officer, as the company reported earnings of $2.1-million, or 4 cents a share, down from $16.6-million, or 29 cents a share a year ago. Sales at the TV network were up 4 percent but were dragged down by a 12 percent sales decrease at the company's eight Cornerstone catalog brands.

The network reported a 3 percent increase in active customers thanks to electronics and home products which offset weakness in the sale of indulgences such as jewelry and apparel.

HSN outperformed its TV shopping rivals. Sales at rival QVC were down 2.7 percent for the quarter. The Jewelry Shopping Network laid off about 18 employees and shrank its rented headquarters facilities in Nashville. Value Vision/ShopNBC, which recently fired its chief executive officer, is evaluating whether to put itself up for sale after reporting 26 percent sales decrease in the second quarter.

Sales at the nation's biggest retail chains in October, meantime, were down 0.9 percent from a year ago, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers/Goldman Sachs Retail Index. The index would have been down 4.2 percent if discount giant Wal-Mart had not posted a 2.4 percent gain

"The retail environment in October was simply awful," said Michael Niemira, chief economist for the ICSC.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or 727-893-8252.

Plunging consumer spending hits TV shopping networks 11/06/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 9, 2008 11:53am]
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